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Tufts Crisis Mapping Class » Crisis Mapping, Featured » Post 1: Why Crisis Mapping?

Post 1: Why Crisis Mapping?

In April 2009, I was a responder during Tufts’ now infamous “Mass Casualty Incident.”

To an outsider, this label might seem too melodramatic for a group of drunk college kids at an outdoor concert, but for responders to the chaos, “Mass” was no exaggeration.  We were faced with 33 patients in about 3 hours, and that number doesn’t address the police incidents that simultaneously ensued.

I had been an EMT for about 2 weeks.

I was sent alone to treat an unconscious person on a sidewalk.  Every ambulance unit in Medford and Somerville was pulled from the two towns to transport students from the event, and we received calls from local hospitals telling us that their Emergency Rooms could not accommodate any more patients.  Though the concerted effort of several pubic safety agencies provided eventual calm and avoidance of disaster, it was clear that we had been underprepared in our planning and reserving of resources.  One semester later, I became the Director of Tufts EMS, and since then have been involved with some incident action planning.  This always involves maps of event sites, with staging areas, ambulance access routes and other necessities clearly determined, but a dynamic mapping system could help us to better adapt to changing conditions and accommodate unexpected emergencies.  While I am much more interested in acute incidents than political crises, I think that I will be able to apply the skills I learn in this course to more effective and innovative incident management.  Certain mapping skills may be applied not only to single-occurrence events, but may assist in monitoring trends in emergency calls and subsequently identifying the causes of certain threats to health and safety.

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